Lorna's parents' Florida picnic 1910
In the absence of any wedding photographs of Lorna’s parents Albert and Topsie, here is a picture of them (on the right) at a picnic in Florida taken around the time of their marriage in 1910. We don’t know their reason for marrying so far from home, although we have previously speculated about this: see our journal entry on 5th April 2020.
Thanks to the detective work of blipper Winsford, we have some new information about Lorna’s parents’ stay in Florida. We now know for certain that Topsie arrived in North America on the Royal Edward in August 1910 with her 5 year-old nephew (Lorna’s first cousin) Maurice. Their port of arrival was Montreal. They had crossed the border at Dakota and reached Florida by the middle of September that year: the marriage took place on 22nd. Accompanying them on their travels was a 21 year-old German woman called Gerta. She was employed by Maurice (and Lorna’s) grandfather as Maurice’s governess.
The documented details of Topsie that Winsford found for us are interesting. We learn that Topsie was 5’6” in height, of dark complexion, with brown hair and eyes, and aged 28. However, we know that Topsie was born in June 1876, so she was in fact aged 34 at this time. It’s possible that she may have lied to disguise the six year age gap between her and Lorna’s father Albert.
We still don’t know why Lorna’s father Albert was in the US. However, there is an indication in the UK census records that he may have simply been enjoying a holiday. One year later on the census date in 1911, Albert and Topsie were guests at the house of Lorna’s Aunt Beatrice (Albert’s sister) and Uncle Percy W in Staffordshire. In the column for profession, the detail for Albert shows that he was an army pensioner (presumably for his service in the Boer War), and a man of ‘private means’.
According to the 1911 census, cousin Maurice was staying with Lorna's (and his) Auntie Gertie and Uncle Alfred in Walthamstow, London, so it looks like he was passed around the family after the divorce of his parents.
Three decades later, at the time that Lorna was writing her war diary, cousin Maurice was serving in the RAF as a pilot.